NEPC Review: The Louisiana Recovery School District: Lessons for the Buckeye State (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, January 2012)
In The Louisiana Recovery School District: Lessons for the Buckeye State, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute criticizes local urban governance structures and presents the decentralized, charter-school-driven Recovery School District (RSD) in New Orleans as a successful model for fiscal and academic performance. Absent from the review is any consideration of the chronic under-funding and racial history of New Orleans public schools before Hurricane Katrina, and no evidence is provided that a conversion to charter schools would remedy these problems. The report also misreads the achievement data to assert the success of the RSD, when the claimed gains may be simply a function of shifting test standards. The report also touts the replacement of senior teachers with new and non-traditionally prepared teachers, but provides no evidence of the efficacy of this practice. Additionally, the report claims public support for the reforms, but other indicators—never addressed in the report—reveal serious concerns over access, equity, performance, and accountability. Ultimately, the report is a polemic advocating the removal of public governance and the replacement of public schools with privately operated charter networks. It is thin on data and thick on claims, and should be read with great caution by policymakers in Ohio and elsewhere.